Tuesday, April 29, 2008

BREVITAS

A US campaign watchdog has accused presumptive Republican president nominee John McCain of violating election laws by accepting campaign contributions from two prominent Londoners. At issue is a fundraising luncheon held in March at London's Spencer House, during McCain's swing through the United Kingdom. An invitation to the event lists Lord Rothschild and Nathaniel Rothschild as hosts, and indicates the event was made possible with their "kind permission". Judicial Watch, a Washington organization instrumental in the March release of Hillary Clinton's White House schedules, has asked US election monitors to investigate whether the Rothschilds improperly sponsored the fundraiser. US political campaigns are forbidden from accepting contributions from foreign nationals. "The question is whether or not the Rothschilds paid for the event, the venue, the catering, or any other related costs," said Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. - Guardian

The Mail leads on Gordon Brown's determination to toughen the law on cannabis and override recommendations from the Home Office's advisory council on the misuse of drugs. The prime minister is expected to announce next week that cannabis will return to Class B status from Class C. Meanwhile, the final two polls for Thursday's local elections and London's mayoral race are full of foreboding for Brown and Labour. The Guardian says the polls indicate that Brown is heading for crushing reverses and will see Ken Livingstone beaten by Boris Johnson for London mayor. - Guardian Wrap

The Guardian reports on accusations that officers of MI5 are outsourcing the torture of British citizens to Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence. Tayab Ali, a London-based lawyer for two of the men who were tortured, told the Guardian: "I am left with no doubt that, at the very worst, the British security service instigates the illegal detention and torture of British citizens, and at the very best turns a blind eye to torture."

Salahuddin Amin, a college graduate from Luton, claims he was deprived of sleep, whipped and beaten during 10 months in prison in Rawalpindi. He describes a pattern of first being tortured by his Pakistani captors and then asked the same questions by two men, one of whom introduced himself as Matt from MI5. The two British men would leave and the torture would resume. Amin said the MI5 officers would insist that his main torturer remained in the room because they wanted the man to know which questions had not been answered. Another man, from Manchester, who cannot be named, said he had his fingernails removed.

Amy Bennett Williams, News-Press, FL - As the Coalition of Immokalee Workers prepares to deliver more than 60,000 petitions to Burger King headquarters in Miami, the daughter of Burger King's vice-president Stephen Grover confirmed her father is responsible for online postings vilifying the coalition. The Immokalee-based group is asking Burger King to improve tomato harvesters' working conditions and pay a penny more a pound for tomatoes, which could add about $20 to a daily wage of $50, workers say. McDonald's and Yum! Brands, the world's biggest fast- food chain and restaurant company, respectively, have agreed to the raise. Yum! signed on in 2005; McDonald's in 2007. So far, Burger King has refused, while publicly saying it wants to work with the coalition to improve labor conditions. Yet often during the past year, when articles or videos about the coalition were posted on YouTube and various Internet news sites, someone using the online names activist2008 or surfxaholic36 would attach comments coalition member Greg Asbed has called 'libelous.' This one, from surfxaholic36, is representative: 'The CIW is an attack organization lining the leaders pockets . They make up issues and collect money from dupes that believe their story. To (sic) bad the people protesting don't have a clue regarding the facts. A bunch of fools!' Although Shannon Grover also uses the name surfxaholic36 - mostly on social networking sites - she said the anti-coalition posts are her father's alone.

Douglas Feith may not have devised an exit strategy for the U.S. occupation of Iraq, but according to the former Bush administration official, a group of Georgetown professors apparently had no trouble coming up with an exit strategy for him. The distinguished practitioner in national security policy in the School of Foreign Service will not be returning to teach at Georgetown next semester after the university chose not to renew his two-year contract. "Technically I was appointed for two years and there was no extension of the appointment," Feith said in an interview. "My understanding is that there were some members of the faculty that didn't want me on the faculty.". . . Feith said he got the sense that the reason his contract was not extended was because of political views and past work that generated controversy among many faculty members. . . At a lecture he gave earlier this month, a group of students from Georgetown Peace Action protested Feith's alleged support of certain interrogation techniques. Georgetown Peace Action has sharply criticized the university's decision to hire Feith. - Georgetown Hoya

Bionx has created a conversion system that allows you to add electric power to any bike, adding now more than 15 pounds. Only problem: price is in the four digits. Reports Tree Hugger: A seven pound, 350 watt gearless and brushless motor replaces the rear hub and the battery pack is fastened to the frame. The lithium-manganese battery charges in three hours and go for seventy miles, helped along by regenerative braking. Use up a lot of juice going up a hill?

Ralph Nader secured a spot on the November ballot in New Mexico, making it his first for the 2008 campaign. New Mexico is expected to be a key swing state. Nader and VP running mate Matt Gonzalez will appear on the NM ballot under the Independent Party name . . . The Constitution Party overwhelmingly rejected former Ambassador and frequent GOP candidate Alan Keyes' bid for their Presidential nomination on Saturday. Baptist pastor and local radio talk show host Chuck Baldwin of Florida -- the party's 2004 VP nominee -- easily defeated Keyes

Overheard at the National Mall reflecting pool as a daughter points to a Canadian goose: : "Look Mom! Wildlife!" - Eavesdrop DC

The nation's population could more than triple to 1 billion as early as 2100. That's the eye-popping projection that urban and rural planners, gathered for their annual meeting in Las Vegas, are hearing from a land-use expert. "What do we do now to start preparing for that?" asks Arthur Nelson, co-director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech, whose analysis projects that the USA will hit the 1 billion mark sometime between 2100 and 2120. "It's a realistic long-term challenge." The nation currently has almost 304 million people and is the world's third most populous, behind China (1.3 billion) and India (1.1 billion). China passed the 1 billion mark in the early 1980s. Nelson's projection assumes that current fertility rates remain constant but that longevity and immigration will continue to rise. - USA Today

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